Is there a battle raging within the Obama administration when it comes to Russia? Seems so – not about Ukraine but something even more threatening to our national security and sovereignty.
As described by Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol, “The Obama administration has scheduled a deputies committee meeting this week to resolve a bitter inter-agency dispute over a request from Russia with respect to the Open Skies program. Informed sources believe the White House is likely to side with the State Department, which wants to accommodate Russia, over the objections of the Obama administration’s Defense Department and intelligence agencies.”
It’s Open Skies — not Falling Skies, that sci-fi show on TNT — and as you learn what this program entails you will certainly become more alarmed. You think the NSA surveillance is bad? Just wait.
As Mr. Kristol explains, “The Open Skies treaty allows the United States and Russia to fly over each other’s territory with planes loaded with certain agreed-upon sensor packages, in order to ensure compliance with arms control agreements and to provide assurance against preparations for various military surprises. Russia has asked the U.S. to agree to an upgrade in the sensor package their planes can carry. (Obviously, the exact nature of these sensor packages and the proposed upgrades is highly classified.) The request would apparently result in a significant increase in Russian spying capabilities over the United States.”
What is troubling is that it seems John Kerry and the State Department are willing to acquiesce to the request while the Defense Department, after they stopped laughing, is up in arms. Unfortunately, it looks like the Obama White House is siding with the State Department. Oh, what I miss the most — not really — about Washington DC are all the sneaky, behind-closed-doors escapades that transpire without everyday American citizens having an idea.
House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers is apparently so concerned that he sent the president an unusual public letter Friday — of course when things are done on a Friday before the whole gang goes on Easter recess, chances are no one notices. Here are the highlights:
Chairman Rogers wrote, “Given current world events, President Putin appears to be more than willing to disregard international norms of behavior in seeking geopolitical advantage. We should not now naively believe he will unilaterally adhere to the limitations of the Open Skies Treaty. Putin’s attempt to upgrade Russia’s sensing capabilities now is particularly problematic. I have serious concerns about the technical advantages Russia would gain.”
So here’s the perplexing question: if we have the ability to openly fly over Russia according to this treaty from the Clinton administration — how did we get caught by surprise with Putin’s actions in the Crimea?
Furthermore, why does the Obama administration believe Putin is asking for an upgrade and expansion at this time? Yep, to fly over and peak into what’s happening with NATO member nations along his border — possessing ethnic Russian populations, certainly Moldova and the Baltic States.
We just cannot be this stupid, or can we? Why don’t we just dump this program if we’re not going to effectively use it ourselves and instead allow ourselves to be exploited?
So let’s be on the lookout for President Obama to make a decision about signing the passed legislation strengthening the restrictions on those who have previously participated in terrorist activities gaining diplomatic visa entry into America, namely the Iranian UN Ambassador. And now tell Putin nyet and that we will not allow an upgrade to his sensor package as part of his overflight aircraft — then again, how do we ensure he doesn’t do it anyway? Keep an eye on this one, and a special hat tip to Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard for being a true Guardian of the Republic.